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Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro already let down the LGBT community

Sofia Lotto Persio January 3, 2019
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose elections has worried LGBT rights activists, gestures during a ceremony.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty)

The government of Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro has wasted no time in targeting LGBT+ rights.

The ministry overseeing human rights, rebranded as the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, has failed to make any explicit reference to LGBT+ rights in listing its priorities and internal structures, the Brazilian newspaper O Globo reports.

A provisional measure dated January 1—the government’s first day in office—which lists the various ministries’ prerogatives and internal bodies only names the entity responsible for fighting prejudice and intolerance as “National Council for Combating Discrimination,” rather than using its full name: National Council for Combating Discrimination and Promotion of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travestis and Transgender (CNCD / LGBT).

The full name currently still appears on the website of the ministry.

Damares Alves, who promised to protect LGBT rights despite her religious convictions, speaks after being appointed by Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia on December 6, 2018.
Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro appointed an evangelical pastor, Damares Alves, as the new minister for women, family and human rights. (Sergio Lima/AFP/Getty)

The new ministry also failed to explicitly mention LGBT+ people in referencing minority groups whose rights it seeks to protect and promote. It only lists women, family, childhood and adolescence, youth, elderly, people with disabilities, black people, social and ethnic minorities and indigenous communities.

LGBT+ activists protest Jair Bolsonaro government decision

News of the exclusion sparked debate on social media.

LGBT+ activist Daniela Mercury wrote in a tweet retweeted nearly 500 times and liked by 2,400 people: “The constitution protects us. We as a society need to demonstrate against the extinction of public policies for the LGBT+ population.”

An exasperated Twitter user wrote a response to people who questioned the need for LGBT+ rights to be explicitly mentioned as a priority for the ministry and those who believe the term “social and ethnic minorities” implicitly includes the LGBT+ community.

“It is not to have special human rights for us, PEOPLE DIE ONLY BECAUSE WE ARE DIFFERENT, only because we do not follow a pattern of hetero and cis society, come out of your bubble and understand this,” the tweet said.

The user, named Thiago, added: “As for the provisional measure, it covers us (for what I saw) but it does not give the necessary attention we all need, equal rights yes, but is there an improvement in that change? (and listen, it’s always how it starts…)”

Brazil counts one of the world’s highest murder rates for LGBT+ people, but Bolsonaro has repeatedly disregarded the need for measures against homophobia and transphobia.

Minister appointed by Jair bolsonaro met with LGBT+ groups

In a statement, the ministry sought to reassure the LGBT+ community that the naming issues would not affect their rights.

“The current Directorate for the Promotion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Tranvesti and Transsexual Rights, formerly a body of the National Secretariat of Citizenship, will be maintained, with the same structure, in the National Secretariat of Global Protection,” the statement read.

The statement also named the National Secretary of Global Protection, attorney of the Treasury Sergio Augusto de Queiroz. The newly-appointed secretary is also an evangelical pastor, just like the new Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights Damares Alves.

“No rights won by the LGBT community will be violated.”

— Damares Alves

In the last tweet he posted from his account, dated December 14, Queiroz criticised those who questioned Alves’ suitability for the ministry due to her anti-abortion and socially conservative views.

“The criticisms of the religious experiences of the future Minister Damares show that the expression ‘human rights,’ for many of the critics, is nothing but rhetorical manipulation to give ‘to their own rights.’ Discrimination is a weapon geared to several groups,” Queiroz wrote in his tweet.

Upon her inauguration, Alves proudly stated her religious convictions.

“The state is lay, but this minister is terribly Christian,” she said, quoted in the Associated Press.

In her 47-minute-long speech, quoted in the Brazilian government’s news agency Agência Brasil, Alves also promised Bolsonaro’s government would tackle “the ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers,” adding: “No one is going to stop us from calling our girls of princesses and our boys of princes.”

However, Alves also promised that “all family settings in this country will be respected” and that there will be an open dialogue with the LGBT+ community. Alves met with 33 representatives of LGBT+ rights groups in December.

“No rights won by the LGBT community will be violated,” she said.

More: Americas, Brazil, Brazil, Damares Alves, Jair Bolsonaro, LGBT rights

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